When a fitness center membership or home gym isn't in the budget, a calisthenics-based, no-equipment-required exercise regimen can help you achieve your health goals. Begin with exercises such as bent-knee pushups and brisk walking; as you gain strength, proceed to higher-intensity activities such as straight-leg pushups and running for a greater challenge. Consult a physician before you begin, avoid dehydration by drinking plenty of water and start slowly for the best and safest results.
Knee bends, also called squats, work the quadriceps, hamstrings and calf muscles of the legs plus the glutes of the butt. Proper squat form means never letting your knees travel in front of your toes; in addition, keeping your knees aligned with your ankles and hips helps you avoid injury. Place your feet hip-width apart, brace your abs and bend your knees as if you were sitting in a chair. When your knees bend to 90 degrees, push up through your heels and return to standing. Do 10 repetitions.
Pushups work the muscles of the chest, shoulders and arms; they also work the abs and back. Beginners can learn the pushup by modifying the standard straight-leg version by putting your knees on the ground. Start on all fours, with your hands in front of your shoulders; then, shift your weight forward until your hands are directly underneath them. Squeeze your abs, glutes and thighs, and bend your arms until your nose nearly touches the ground. Exhale as you push up through the outside of your hands and do nine more reps.
The Modified Superman
Stay on all fours for the modified superman, which exercise physiologist Joe Cannon reports works the glutes and hamstrings as well as the core muscles of the the back and abs. Place your hands and knees in line with your shoulders and hips; keep your head in a neutral position as you slowly raise your left arm and right leg until they point straight in front and behind you. Hold the pose for 10 seconds and switch sides. Do 10 reps.
Rhythmic, no-equipment-required walking is a form of calisthenics which strengthens the legs and glutes. It also helps you prolong life, lose weight, improve mood and increase endurance. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises people to exercise aerobically at least 150 minutes per week to gain these benefits. Break this total into manageable chunks by exercising for 15 minutes in the morning and 10 minutes at lunch on five or more days per week. If you tire of walking, you can substitute biking, swimming or dancing.
- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: How Much Physical Activity Do Adults Need?
- Personal Fitness Training Beyond the Basics: Joe Cannon
- ACE Fitness: Bent Knee Push-Up
- ACE Fitness: Bodyweight Squat
Lisa Bigelow is an independent writer with prior professional experience in the finance and fitness industries. She also writes a well-regarded political commentary column published in Fairfield, New Haven and Westchester counties in the New York City metro area.